Monday, April 05, 2021

Trouble north of the border

The feud between the current and former leaders of the Scottish National Party has bitterly divided the Scottish nationalist community. Nicola Sturgeon has fended off the drive to force her to resign over what she, or her husband, did or did not do over the Salmond affair. But it the row clearly has damaged her credibility as First Minister of Scotland while leaving Alex Salmond politically wounded but not down and out.
    Salmond, who led the Scottish government from 2007 to 2014, has rallied his followers behind the banner of his new Alba Party which he hopes will propel him back into the Scottish parliament when the Holyrood elections take place in May.
    Meanwhile Scottish Labour sits on the side-lines unable to exploit the splits within the nationalist camp while having little to offer to the Scottish electorate apart from old Blairite clich├ęs that Scottish workers turned their backs on years ago.
    The establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 led to a semi-autonomous “devolved” Labour- Lib Dem coalition government that used their powers to pass some modest reforms beneficial to the working class. But toeing the Blairite line meant they were easily undercut by the nationalists who won many Scottish workers over with a reform package that was tagged on to their long-standing demand for independence
    In 2011 the Scottish National Party secured a majority of seats in the Scottish Parliament. Following the collapse of the Scottish Labour Party in the 2015 general election the nationalists have been successful in deluding many people that they are a left‑wing party. But they’re not. Like the Liberals of the 19th century they will support some popular demands to win the workers’ vote. But they are an essentially a liberal bourgeois party. They campaign for independence because they believe that the Westminster parliament stands in the way of Scotland’s integration within the European Union – though that is out of their reach for the moment.
    Though the nationalists have also taken much of the Tory vote in Scotland there are clear divisions within the ranks of the Scottish bourgeoisie on the question of outright independence. Some believe it is unattainable and others that it is undesirable at a time of global capitalist crisis. Scottish banks relied on the Bank of England to bail them out in the 2008 slump and some fear that an independent Scotland would not be able to weather the storm when the next crash comes.            Nevertheless independence would free the Scottish working class from an increasingly oppressive and intrusive Westminster government.
     Independence, in itself, does nothing to preserve national traditions and culture or strengthen working class power. In the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, self-governing administrations comprised of local exploiters have presided over the virtual demise of all their heritage and culture while introducing labour laws and practices even worse than those implemented by the mainland Tories since 1979.
    But independence would open up the prospect of a genuinely left-wing Scottish Labour government. The organised workers of Scotland — the trade unions — would still have to fight for such reforms but they would be easier to win than trying to wring them from Westminster.
    The New Communist Party has long recognised the rights of the Scottish people to full national self‑determination. We support Scottish demands for the right to preserve and develop their culture and national identity. We support their right to possess and control all the physical and other resources present on their land and territorial waters.
    There can be no doubt that Scotland can hold its own as an independent state. If and when that question is again put to the Scottish electorate the New Communist Party will support a vote for independence.

No comments: